Bulgarian Contingent Officially Joins Forces With Americans
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 23, 2006 Charged with providing security at the Multinational Force Iraq Temporary Interview and Protection Facility here that houses nearly 200 protected people and refugees, the First Guard Company from Kazanluk, Bulgaria, received the personal congratulations of its nation's ambassador to Iraq at a formal ceremony here yesterday.
Bulgarian Ambassador to Iraq Valeri Ratchev speaks to Bulgarian and American soldiers, June 22. The ambassador was on hand to witness the First Guard Company's completion-of-training ceremony. The Bulgarians are responsible for security of the Multinational Force Iraq Temporary Interview and Protection Facility in Iraq's Diyala province. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Tony Sisti, USN
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Although the Bulgarian Contingent completed its training some time ago, and began its security mission at the end of April, the soldiers elected to wait until Bulgarian Ambassador to Iraq Valeri Ratchev could join them to hold an official ceremony.
The soldiers spent 21 days training with members of the 49th Military Police Battalion's 110th Military Police Company from Fort Hood, Texas, to prepare for their mission.
"You will be fully successful and will have an important contribution to our common goals in support of the new Iraqi state and the Iraqi people," said Ratchev. "The mission will be long and full of unforeseen situations and risks, but your destiny is to manage because you are Bulgarians, because you are here for a noble cause and because you work together with true allies and friends."
The 49th Battalion commander noted the significance of the Bulgarian Contingent's participation. "Know that you are making history," said Army Lt. Col. Anthony Palumbo. "We welcome you as a coalition partner and look forward to serving with you."
The Bulgarian and American soldiers live and work side by side, and their professional relationships contribute to the successful mission.
"The biggest accomplishment is us working together and gaining experience from each other," said Pvt. Stefan Ilchev, a Bulgarian Section Commander. "We have a lot in common, and our goals are the same. We're both walking on the same side of the road."
The First Guard Company will continue serving in its current role until September, when it will be relieved by Bulgaria's Second Guard Company.
(From a Multinational Force Iraq Task Force 134 news release.)